A person who has appointed another person to act as their attorney (the principal) can revoke a power of attorney (i.e. cancel the power of attorney) so that the person appointed (the attorney) is no longer authorised to act on behalf of the principal, provided that the principal has capacity.

A revocation of a power of attorney by the principal is different to a resignation of an attorney.  See “Resigning Under an Australian Power of Attorney?”.

1.   Take Reasonable Steps to Inform the Attorney

A principal must take reasonable steps to inform every attorney of the revocation of their power, otherwise the attorney may legally be able to continue to make decisions on behalf of the principal.  This means that although a power of attorney can be revoked verbally, by the principal telling the attorney that their power has been revoked, it is important that the principal revokes a power of attorney in writing by completing a “Revocation of Power of Attorney” and providing it to the attorney so that there is a document evidencing the principal’s decision to revoke the power of attorney.  If more than one attorney was appointed by the principal then separate notices of revocation should be provided to each attorney.

2.    Ensure all Copies of the Power of Attorney are Returned

After the power of attorney is revoked any copies of the power of attorney within the attorney’s possession should be returned, and any organisations with whom the attorney has been dealing in their capacity as attorney should be notified of the revocation, so that they do not continue to act as attorney.  The principal may also wish to destroy or clearly denote on the original power of attorney (or any copies of it) that it has been revoked.

3.    Deregister the Power of Attorney

If the power of attorney is registered, it must also be deregistered.

A decision to revoke a power of attorney is a serious decision. It should therefore be documented appropriately.

Lachlan McKnight
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